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Naturwissenschaften. 2008 Jul;95(7):609-15. doi: 10.1007/s00114-008-0361-4. Epub 2008 Mar 5.

Effects of maternal diet and host quality on oviposition patterns and offspring performance in a seed beetle (Coleoptera: Bruchidae).

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  • 1Department of General Botany, University Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany.


In seed beetles, oviposition decisions may influence the offspring phenotype because eggs constitute the initial resources available for larval development. We tested the effects of host quality variations (small vs. large seeds of the host plant Calystegia sepium, Convolvulaceae) on oviposition patterns and offspring performance of the seed beetle Megacerus eulophus. We also manipulated the maternal diet: high diet quality vs. low diet quality to evaluate possible interactive effects of the maternal nutritional environment and host quality on oviposition patterns. We further assessed the consequences of egg size variation in offspring size. Female M. eulophus fed with high-quality diet (H-diet) laid more eggs and lived longer than females fed with low-quality diet (P-diet). Fecundity decreased under a low-quality host for both maternal diets. The occurrence of maternal environmental effects on egg size plasticity was detected. Under conditions of low-quality host, mothers fed with the high-quality diet produced bigger eggs in comparison with a high-quality host, whereas females fed with the low-quality diet produced smaller ones. Regardless of these differences observed in egg size depending on the maternal diet, progeny emerging from small seeds (low-quality host) showed a similar performance at emergence. Offspring traits were only significantly affected by host quality. Beetles emerging from large seeds had greater body weight and length than those reared on small seeds. Variations in oviposition patterns in response to host quality are discussed.

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